Monday, May 21, 2007

Smif-n-Wessun - "Wrektime"

Whither Boot Camp Clik? How did these guys fall through the cracks? Still kicking around, apparently. If their legacy was this one bassline (no sample credited; I don't recognise it but that doesn't mean it's not lifted), that'd be plenty. It's not of course, but still.

Boot Camp's mid-90s heyday was largely overshadowed by the dominance of the like-minded Wu-Tang Clan. But where the Clan found their initial success as a group before branching out into solo projects, the Clik released their individual (actually, smaller group) albums before the big group effort. Which flopped, basically. And that was pretty much it. Oh, they're still releasing albums. But no one's really listening like they used to.

While Black Moon's Enta da Stage is widely considered the cream of the Boot Camp Crop, I'll take Smif-n-Wessun's Dah Shinin' any day. Besides the killer tracks (DJ Evil Dee and Mr. Walt each produced about half; Walt did this one), MCs Tek and Steele are rhythmic savants of the best kind, wandering back and forth over the beat. On this cut they sound as though they're experimenting with different cadences for the refrain and never quite settle on one. Their lyrics reflect a similarly confusing identity: are they blunt-toting thugs or knapsack-friendly consciousness-rap types? Both, sort of, and possibly the only act ever to successfully straddle that particular divide.

Following a threatening letter from a certain firearms manufacturer, T&S rebranded themselves as the Cocoa Brovaz and released a follow-up three years later to little notice. They garnered renewed interest for their illegal-sample-heavy underground single "Super Brooklyn", but never released an album to follow it. They changed their name back and finally put out another record two years ago, but I've never heard it. Still, its makers may have faded away, but Dah Shinin' stands the test of time.

Bought this one new at the mighty Beat Street in Brooklyn USA, greatest hiphop/R&B record store in the universe. R.I.P., baby.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: Smif-n-Wessun - "Wrektime"

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